June 27, 2013

Losing a Kitchen, Gaining a Blog

My world is upside down right now. OK, that might be a little dramatic but things are moving fast and I'm disappointed to find I'm not as flexible as I've always thought I was.

I was doing laundry Sunday night. When I emerged from the back of the house I could hear that the washing machine was still going. That was odd since I had been in the back for several hours. When I got into the kitchen (where the washing machine resides) I discovered water everywhere! I'll bet there was at least an inch since there were little waves when I walked in it. The carpet in the family room was completely saturated. I said a few not-very-nice words. It appears the machine got stuck on the fill cycle of a wash and had never moved out of it. So it was filling for over two hours.

Mopping Up

The last of the towels as I try to soak it up. The strange dark shapes on the carpet in the lower right-hand corner is where I stepped on the carpet and water gushed up around my foot.

I started cleaning up and bailing out but a voice in the back of my head told me this was bigger than a simple clean up. I come from pretty classic middle-class/suburban/whatever stock that "doesn't like to make a fuss" so calling the insurance company felt like an over-reaction. I wrestled for a while with that as I sucked up more and more water from the carpet and soaked every towel I own mopping up the water on the kitchen tile. I finally realized that if this was something that I could take care of, the insurance company would tell me and I would at least ensure that someone who knows more than me saw the mess and could give an educated answer.

What my kitchen looked like when I was buying the house. This is the Before picture.

I put in a call and in less than 12 hours there was a crew in my house measuring the moisture and making noises that sounded like I needed to get a grip and hold on. 24 hours after that my tile floor was gone. Part of the problem was that an original linoleum floor had not been taken up when they put tile in. They just put plywood over it and then the tile. The linoleum acted as a barrier to the water holding it next to the wood and spreading watery goodness everywhere.

When the guys showed me the original linoleum, I actually gasped and said, "Oh my God!" It is truly a 70s linoleum. My house was built in '78 but I have some ugly linoleum in both bathrooms which seem much more dated than '78. I suspected they used some left-over linoleum for the house. This fact is going to become relevant in a minute. Stay with me.

I swear this picture does not do the linoleum ugliness justice.

24 hours after the tile floor was gone my kitchen was gone. Almost entirely. Only the upper cabinets are left. The footers on the cabinets had gotten wet so they had to take them out. The insurance company feels like I can reuse the cabinets but when I took a look at them this morning in my garage they look pretty damaged from being removed. I've never seen cabinets so flimsy. The parts that weren't visible aren't even particle board. Particle board would be an improvement. Parts of these cabinets are that cardboard/wood-ish thing you put in the back of Ikea cabinets. They are the consistency of a dry cracker. Plus you can see on the back of the cabinets someone has written "Demo." They were like fake cabinets to begin with!

My kitchen from nearly the same place as the Before picture was taken. All those blue things you see are fans, heaters, and dehumidifiers to try to dry everything out.

I'm circling back to the insurance company to talk them out of thinking we can reuse these. The insurance company has been great actually. I know people don't get to say that often but they jumped right in and have taken care of things immediately and I haven't had to pay a dime yet. I know that is what they are supposed to do and we shouldn't have to celebrate when someone does their basic job but we all know the reputation that industry has so it is really nice to not have insurance stress on top of everything else.

Remember that original linoleum? Turns out it is "hot" which is code for asbestos. So the regular clean-up crew couldn't take care of it. A special "abatement" crew has had to come in to get this up. They have to seal up the area for safety when they take it out. That is happening right now so tonight, strangers will finally be out of my house and I will have a blank slate for a kitchen.

I'm feeling a little fragile about the whole thing. This really surprises me for a lot of reason. First of all, I tend to be great with change. I'm pretty unflappable. But this happened so FAST! And there were all these strangers touching my STUFF! I just wasn't emotionally prepared to be invaded like this in my own space. I'm very into my space too. I'm a nester x10. I like to have people over but I don't like to leave very often. Why would I when I like it here so much?

The whole thing is very likely to be a blessing in disguise. I'm not just saying that to make myself feel better. I've been gearing up to fix up parts of this house for a while. I research things to death so I haven't been completely idle in planning. However, I had a certain game plan in my head and this is taking me off course.

So this week has been all about making adjustments and going with the flow. I was so serious about the work I was going to do I was actually planning on launching a blog just for the work on the house. I'm the opposite of a DIY expert but my day job is in adult education so I thought that everything I was researching, learning, discovering and doing (mistakes and successes) could be compiled for others who would like some help and encouragement. Kind of a "see, I managed to bumble my way through it so you probably can too!"

I was in the middle of getting the domains pointing to the right spot, customizing themes, branding, etc. I wanted to launch something that looked really professional. Instead, I'm just going to get something up now and all the work that is happening in my house (both DIY and pros) will be there. The website will just have to get spruced up at the same time the kitchen is, which somehow seems perfect.

Woolberry Farm was never intended to be anything other than a place to share things with family and friends who checked in once in a while. It is a great low-consequence writing exercise. My Master's thesis was actually about blogging and learning. I like blogs for many different reasons and one of them is that they can be a great educational delivery tool which is what I intend for Love This Space. If you are interested in that sort of thing, I hope to see you there!

My kitchen in happier days. Scarlet says she is coming along for the ride.

UPDATE: Comments had to be closed due to hate comment spam. Seriously. Someone is that big of a jerk and has that much time on their hands. The hate wasn't directed at me but that doesn't matter. Hate doesn't fly here.

December 14, 2011

This is not the time to panic...

This weekend is the last weekend before Christmas and I'm kind of in screaming panic mode. I have my shopping done. I didn't knit much for anyone this year. I do still need to get on it and knit Grandma's socks. I didn't make her a pair last year and boy did I hear about it. Where is this dementia she is supposed to have? She didn't forget that she usually gets a pair of hand-knit socks. Not once. Not for a second. But that is all I have to do.

So why the screaming panic mode? Habit I think. Plus I have the road trip to AZ ahead of me and I hate driving. I really hate that road trip. I am so crabby by the end of it I just warn people away. I have to get the house ready (nothing worse than coming home to a messy house) and I'm just not in the mood. Cleaning house sucks, doesn't it?

I'm trying to at least get lights up so I don't look like a scrooge. I won't be here to enjoy them but then, they aren't really for ourselves, are they? Plus, I really like lights during winter. I wish we could leave our lights up through February. We really need them in the PNW. Unfortunately, it has been freakin' cold and I don't last long while I'm putting them up. It doesn't help that I'm trying to clean out my gutters at the same time. Too tempting to kill two bugs with one stick. I'm up there looking at the gutters, I can just scoop them out at the same time, right? Except the leaf material is frozen so it comes out in little bricks. This makes it both easier and harder. Easier because you just lift out the brick and harder because it is so cold!

My solution has been to do it until I can't feel my fingers and then I quit until the next day. Which means that last night I got to here.

I have been calling it my "Oh f**k it" design. Because it kind of is. It looks pretty funny actually. I hope my neighbors have a sense of humor about it too.

I'm wrapping up my last week of my second UBC. Bummed that we will be out for 3 weeks and I'm trying to figure out what I can do in the interim while the dojo is closed and I'm in AZ. Everyone keeps saying to walk but that isn't always an option with my knee. I'll try it though. I can feel so much more strength in every other way that it has to help, right?

As I get fit, I struggle with the fact that my outside isn't changing much. I have so far to go, it just takes a while. So I really rely on finding those moments where I know there is a muscle-bound me underneath the fat and when some of those many layers are gone, I'll get to show off a little. This means I really cling to those moments of "Cool! Look at that!"

There was an open gym after Thanksgiving (which means no class was scheduled but they opened the dojo up and we could come in and work out). I took advantage of it and was trying to get through my own version of Thai Kick Drills (over 100 round kicks - I do 30+) and realized that my speed between kicks was really improving. These are hard because my legs are big and heavy and my stamina sucks (whose wouldn't carrying all my extra weight around!). But I was actually getting a normal kick-kick rhythm than my usual, kick-step-kick.

It was awesome. It made me think that someday in the future I'll be able to do the Thai Kick Drills. Actually, it made me start looking up how much it would cost to buy a bag. If I could squeeze in some kick drills everyday...

And that was when I realized I had become one of "those"...

I am looking for opportunities to work out. I think strange things like, "Oh good, it is an abs day, I can't wait to do crunches."

People, Hell has officially frozen over.

June 25, 2008


Just little snippets to catch up.

Suki has been living with me for nearly a year now. This little gal was a little rough around the edges but she is really growing into her role of a full-fledged, happy house cat. She is very affectionate. She will be sitting next to me on the couch half asleep and she will just reach out to rest her paw on my arm or leg. She just wants to touch. She doesn't approve of the dogs when they get rambunctious but then, neither do I.

Have I mentioned that Frankie and Daisy are puppies? Constant movement. The chew-on-each-other game is a big hit. They are at this almost non-stop.

I haven't shared a really cute picture of Daisy yet. Frankie may have been perceived as the special needs dog when I adopted him. He has only one eye and a terrible scar on his side. He is also a spooky dog but Daisy is a true spook. So Daisy has really had the most adjustment to make and has been the most work for me. But she is really starting to bond with me and I see her happier and happier about being in a home.

Frankie is perfectly at home. In fact, he persists in decorating. Just a few scenes I have come upon.

My roses are starting to bloom. I enjoyed them so much last year that this year I dug up some random shrubs and replaced them with more rose bushes. Six in all. And I think I'll do even more. I mean, look at what I get to just fetch from my front yard every week.

I wish I could share the smell. These are highly aromatic. Heaven.

March 09, 2008

Held back by a little hardware

There are a few things about the new house that I hate. Overall, I love it and we are very happy here. But there are just a few things that I absolutely hate and that I feel truly decrease value. For some reason, there are people in my "circle" that are trying to talk me out of changing these things. I have no idea why as I think they are obvious changes that need to happen. Maybe because they are fairly large projects?

Anyway, it drives me nuts that it has been repeatedly suggested my ideas are ridiculous. But, since I'm the one that has to live here, I'm making the changes. However, have you ever noticed the smallest, stupidest thing can halt a project?

For example, I have a beautiful weeping willow that dominates the backyard. This is really a stunning tree that truly gives the backyard "curb appeal" (if a backyard can have curb appeal). The tree is just starting to bloom for Spring. Trust me, in the summer, it is very dramatic.

Now for some reason, someone thought it would be a brilliant idea to put this ugly shed right under the willow tree. Prime real estate in the yard. It should have a lovely seating area. This is a huge shed. I could park a small car in it. This would be the first thing I hate and want to change.

When I first moved in I had terrible trouble with hobo spiders. I suspect they are living between this shed and the fence. It is only about 5 inches back there and it is full of leaf debris. Perfect spider condo. Now that it is warming up again I am afraid they will come back. So now I have two great reasons to get rid of the hideous shed.

Oh wait, make that three reasons. This is the view from my bedroom. The master bedroom. Attractive...non?

Step one is to move everything being stored in the shed to the garage. And since I hate going in the shed (see above spider problem) I don't have much in there. This means I need to get an organization system in the garage. No problem, I have plenty of room for shelving. Which brings us to something else I hate about the house.

Some genius took a couple salvaged kitchen cabinets and put them up on the wall in the garage. Maybe it sounded like a good idea but in bites. It isn't enough room to store much (cans of beans, cans of soup?) and they are planted in the middle of the wall making any useful surrounding shelving impossible. It is truly un-storage.

This project accomplishes several goals. I take care of two "hates" in the house. I will have a charming seating/garden area just under the weeping willow. I could be eliminating the hobo spiders. (Have I mentioned the hobo spiders? *shudder* ) And I will have much needed shelving in the garage. The house needs storage space (there is no pantry, not much of a linen closet and no place for appliances or Costco purchases) I believe I'm creating real value in the home.

So why has this project stalled? One stupid screw. One screw in each cupboard will NOT come out. They are dry wall screws but they must be stripped or in mollies or something. They turn but they won't come out. I'm trying to figure out a way to get these off the wall without having to do demo and lose all that dry wall.

Ugh, when I looked at this picture I saw another reason to get rid of the cupboards. They are dark and a good hidey place for more spiders. I had my face in that cupboard working on the screw and never saw that big web.

So the whole big project is stalled. Every once in a while I go out to the garage and stare at the cupboards like that will help get them down. I'm this >< close to just taking a sledge hammer to them. So suggestions are welcome.

Chickadee update: The chickadees have made their home in the gutter. I don't know if they have laid eggs yet, I was hearing noise like there were chicks but I never saw any baby birds. I took a quick picture in the gutter but I don't see any birds.

The end of the gutter is about two feet from my kitchen window and both chickadee papa and mama sit there and watch me in the kitchen. They don't look afraid or threatened; just curious.

They are probably wondering when I'm going to get rid of that shed!

November 20, 2007

In which I try to make up for lack of postings with a really loooong post

I would say I've been working like a dog, but in my house, working like a dog looks like this:

Argus sleeping

So I'll just say I've been working like the cat/dog handmaiden that I am and have made some serious progress. I'm ready to start inviting people into the home. Which is good since I've completely neglected everyone. I'm going to have to take out a small loan for all the dinners I owe everyone.

One project resulted in two storage solutions, answered the challenge of a style conflict and it cost me less than $5. Now that is bang for the buck.

Let me introduce the dresser:

dresser before

I never liked this dresser. It wasn't big enough for clothing storage but was really too big to be in the living room and not look like a piece of bedroom furniture, the drawers didn't pull in and out easily and the top drawer tilted upward unattractively. And there was just something about how it looked that I didn't like.

A couple of weekends ago, I was faced with a pile of books in the garage that needed to go inside but I was maxed out on shelf room. With all the vet bills we have had lately (about $2500 in the last two months, ouch!) and with, well, buying a HOUSE and all, my disposable cash is tight to say the least. (please don't make me eat any more toasted cheese and tomato soup dinners!)

I found myself staring at the dresser. It was taking up space but not providing any real function. This is not meeting my criteria for things that live in my house. The scale is right for the living room and I liked the color, I liked the top and the sides but it was the drawer fronts I really wasn't loving.

This had once been probably a very attractive piece but at some point (probably the 70s) someone glued those panels on the front of the drawers and replaced the drawer hardware with these really cheap and flimsy handles that were insufficient for pulling the heavy drawers in and out. It was also a quality piece of furniture. Here is a very blurry picture of the drawer joins:

drawer join

This is good stuff. No staples. So I pulled out the drawers to assess what I had inside.

inside the dresser

First I can see the reason for the tilting drawers and trouble pulling them in and out. All of the guides on the right side are broken. Only one was lying at the bottom of the dresser so I couldn't even fix it easily. Instead, I opted to bust out one of the front bars, replace the one guide and make a shelf that sits across the front bar and guides and voila!

dresser after

Storage solution #1 solved. Books have been moved from the garage into the house. Plus, these tall books were always a hassle on standard bookshelves but fit in here nicely. Even taller books (like the atlas) can rest on its side in the bottom space. Cost of this was less than three dollars for the shelf wood. (which I promise will be stained to match soon)

The drawers? I couldn't bring myself to toss them because, aside from the hideous front panel, I thought they were really lovely. Especially those sides with that scalloped join.

Remember the dreaded office? That pit of despair and horror? (and no, I'm not one of those crazy people who live with stacks of junk in their homes, I just moved and emptied a storage space) Prepare to clutch your pearls and gasp, but this is what it looked like before:

office before

This is what it looks like after (same angle of the same area in the room):

office after

And what is that on the walls serving very nicely as attractive shelving? The drawers. Hideous panel side down and beautiful scallop join out. Storage solution #2. All my note cards have a home and show off their pretty boxes as well as all my knitting notions/needles and small knitting/tea books. Cost was a little over a dollar for mollies and screws to fasten the drawers shelves to the wall.

drawer detail

I solved another storage solution (other than pillaging stray pieces of furniture). All my project bags were piled up in the closet and on the top shelf. Now, they have been strung up on the clothing bar. They take up a lot less room and are much easier to access. This will make it much easier for a purge. Some of these projects have languished in bags for three years. I think it is safe to say I have fallen out of love with them.


I also need someone to please help me get rid of all the books and research material I accumulated while working on my master's thesis. I haven't looked at them in a year but they were the end all/be all of my existence at one point in my life so it is really hard to just chuck them.

The cat has taken over the office so I know it has met a high standard of approval. Yes, I know that three months ago this cat was living in the street. But trust me, all cats have high standards from birth.

The really exciting part for me is that I am one flat surface (my bedroom dresser top) away from having all three bedrooms clean and functional! Great googly-moogly someone mark this day.